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The House plans to hold separate votes on aid for Israel and Ukraine after delays

Speaker Mike Johnson announced plans Monday evening to put forward four separate bills to address foreign aid funding, including to Israel and Ukraine.
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Speaker Mike Johnson announced plans Monday evening to put forward four separate bills to address foreign aid funding, including to Israel and Ukraine.

Updated April 16, 2024 at 2:00 PM ET

House Speaker Mike Johnson has announced a path forward on aid to Ukraine and Israel after months of delay because of GOP divisions. Iran's unprecedent attack on Israel over the weekend increased pressure on Congress to act.

Johnson plans to bring forward three separate bills on funding for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine. A fourth national security bill would likely include a provision that could lead to a ban on TikTok in the U.S.

Lawmakers say there's renewed urgency in passing the aid to Israel after Saturday's attack.

"My phone melted over the weekend, you know, with all the members letting me know all their ideas," Johnson told reporters after the closed-door meeting with his members Monday evening. "It really was the will of my colleagues to vote on these measures independently and not have them all sandwiched together, as the Senate had done."

Top congressional Democrats, President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had called on the House to swiftly vote on the Senate-passed $95 billion foreign aid package that combines aid for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine. But that has long been a no-go in the House, where various GOP members remain deeply opposed to further funding for Ukraine.

"The Ukraine piece is — clearly on the Republican side — the most controversial one, the one that has the most difference of opinion," Johnson said Monday.

Biden spoke with Johnson on Monday. The White House on Tuesday didn't rule out his plan.

"It does appear at first blush that the speaker's proposals will in fact help us get aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel and needed resources to the Indo-Pacific," said John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council. "We just need to get more detail."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor that he too is "reserving judgment" until he sees more about the substance of the proposal.

Next steps for the House

Timing of the House vote remains to be seen. House GOP rules require 72 hours to review legislation, which Johnson said he would honor.

"That probably means that if we get bill text sometime early tomorrow — that's the hope, that's the ambition — then that probably puts us into perhaps Friday evening [for votes]," he said. "We'll have to see how the clock works."

The proposal drew early signs of support from members.

"It's the right way in which the House should function," said Republican New York Rep. Marc Molinaro. "The speaker wants four votes, four measures. Everybody can vote their conscience, vote their constituency, and then defend their position."

Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, who is the chair of the Republican Study Committee, told reporters he thinks Johnson is "doing the right thing."

Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters he thinks it's a "good strategy" to separate the package into four distinct bills.

On Tuesday, House Republicans said they plan to then send the bills as one package to the Senate.

The threat to oust Johnson

Hanging over Johnson's head is the threat of a move to oust him as speaker from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

Greene had previously indicated that if Johnson were to bring up a vote on aid to Ukraine alone, which she vehemently opposes, she would move forward on hermotion to vacate.

As she left the meeting, Greene blasted the proposal. "People are not going to like any of this," she said, adding she sees it as "the wrong direction for Speaker Johnson and our country."

Greene told reporters she is still considering whether to force a vote on removing Johnson as speaker.

"A motion to vacate is such a serious issue — it should be handled responsibly, not just, you know, willy-nilly," she said.

On Tuesday, another House Republican, Kentucky's Thomas Massie, backed the effort to oust Johnson.

When asked on Monday about the threat of his removal, Johnson told reporters he's not sure "how that shakes out."

"I don't spend my time worrying about motions to vacate. We're having to govern here and we're going to do our job," he said.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.
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